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Old 03-23-2016, 09:52 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Talon87 View Post
It flat out isn't feasible, but man oh man would it be something else if I could hop on the train from Lafayette to Chicago for $10 round trip. Be there in half an hour to an hour (instead of the 2.5 hours it takes me by car), get on Chicago trams to get around the city, have fun, go back to the train station before dark and head home.
California is doing something like that already. Japan's railway is a miracle of public works (the history of how it was financed is amazing) but it's true to say that getting it done in the US is hard.

Once the service goes up, people adapt to it and can no longer live without it. So it's a baby step initiative, yet more states should be proactive in passing legislation like this.

I know Elon bashed the California HSR, but I wouldn't take everything he says seriously. In stumping for the electric-car, the self-driving car, and high-speed rail, Elon is trying to portray himself as unilaterally progressive on technology, but he's also hedging his bets. The electric car is a joke, self-driving cars might be a square dance and only HSR is the real future of reducing emissions, costs and danger. One of those will stick and he'll profit off of that.

Originally Posted by Talon87 View Post
... But we return to the terrorism argument. It's difficult for terrorists to take out hundreds of lives via the current US highway system. It'd be very, very easy for them to wreak havoc if they targeted the train tracks. Hell, I'd argue the only reason we haven't seen more of it is because we are such a car-heavy, train-light society right now. If we were to invert it, we'd have to deal with the dangers of travel by train. You can inspect an airplane before every takeoff. You can't inspect thousands of miles of train tracks before every departure.
I disagree. It's easier to monitor train tracks and trains, since they have a limited number of vehicles in motion, than it is to monitor hundreds of millions of cars in constant motion every day. You would stop the 9/11 style huge catastrophic disasters in favour of allowing terrorists to get away with single-vehicle collision related kills on a smaller scale.
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Old 03-23-2016, 10:27 AM   #27
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Two problems with what you've said.
  1. Train tracks are not easy to monitor. They are long and there are multiple modes of disruption available to bad men which would not set off sensors. You would have to actively monitor the tracks (e.g. have security cameras installed every 100 feet and have an alarm go off in a control room to alert a human operator if one of the cameras has detected activity that might be human and not wildlife), and I don't think there's a single country in the world with that sort of system set up right now.
  2. You're barking up the entirely wrong tree with your "more cars on the road, fewer trains on the track, ergo you're wrong Talon" reasoning. It isn't about the traffic density. It's about how easy it is to sabotage the tracks (trains) / roads (cars) and how many casualties you could expect to amass. Roads and tracks are similar in terms of the modes of disruption but are different in terms of the scale of the casualties per event. (Talking current-day tech here. Manually-operated automobiles. Not automated!)
The balance tips in favor of trains being safer than cars once we make this a discussion about automated vehicles. A nationwide network of automated vehicles begs for an enemy nation or terrorist cell to hijack the network and run millions of cars off the road all at once. (Or to distribute malware to the cars themselves, if you want to argue that the cars' programming would have built-in safety features in case the network is giving them bad information.) This is a problem that will have to be solved before any country in the developed Western world can adopt this technology wide scale. With trains, even if you were to hack a computer-controlled train there simply aren't as many people on trains at any given second as there are on the roads. You'll achieve infrastructure disruption (loss of food, loss of raw materials, etc.), but you're not going to achieve the carnage that I worry might arise from spiking the automated punch with cars on the road.
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